I see patterns. Fear not, this isn’t the introduction to a new M. Night Shyamalan movie but I do enjoy opportunities where I can connect the dots. Maybe it is the linear, logical, left –brain, former programmer in me but I relish when I find patterns that emerge across different disciplines, groups, organizations, etc. Five years ago I was part of a public policy group that mixed professionals from different worlds – for-profit, nonprofit, government, education, etc. The goal of the program was to advance public policy awareness and build public policy leadership. What I quickly recognized was that many of the same issues that were challenging me in the “for-profit innovation arena” were also plaguing these other groups. The challenges of funding, personal & organizational risk, managing expectations, and the fear or failure were consistent. There were some nuances but there was far more similarity that difference.
Much was made this last week over United Parcel Service’s (UPS) failure to deliver packages before Christmas. The media seemed to border on delight in sharing the stories of customers who were upset that their packages didn’t arrive in time. As I heard these stories played over and over again I kept wondering how we got to this point. Last minute shoppers who were Amazon Prime members could order their gifts on December 22nd and still expect them to be delivered anywhere in the country before Christmas with free two-day shipping. But when some gifts didn’t arrive in time who’s to blame – the retailer, the shipper, or us, the consumer?
Last week I did a story about Dun & Bradstreet CEO Jeff Stibel (@Stibel) on how he had created a Failure Wall at his company in an attempt to build a tolerance for risk-taking and failure within the organization’s culture (Post Here). I was just able to watch a similar interview that the Huffington Post had done a week prior with Jeff and three other guests. I found the discussion with the other guests absolutely bizarre but worth addressing. On one hand they were all praising Jeff for his ability to create a culture that has learned to tolerate failure without being fired. But on the other hand they all expressed deep concern over what would happen if someone took a picture of someone’s failure from the wall and shared it on social media. This is exactly the fear bordering on paranoia that Jeff is trying to address with his Failure Wall.
Most business professionals who rise to the senior ranks of an organization do so because they are extremely driven and frequently very bright. And while personal drive and intelligence are what got them to this point in their career it is often times not sufficient to succeed at this level. One area that I have witnessed many leaders stumble is when their expectations don’t match the realities of their organization and their striving for excellence outpaces their team’s ability to delivery satisfactory.
Receive periodic email updates from Matt Hunt including his published pieces, updates on his progress, and more!